Ngwelezana Hospital a “pit of hell”

Democratic Alliance media statement by  Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health


Ngwelezana Hospital a “pit of hell”


The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has been reliably informed that Empangeni’s Ngwelezana Hospital is rapidly becoming a “pit of hell” with cancer patients the worst affected.

The claim was made by a senior staff member earlier this week who also revealed that;

  • The hospital’s Mammogram machine remains broken despite the department having been informed more than six months ago. As a result, early detection of breast cancer is being compromised;
  • The Fluoroscopy machine has not been working for almost a year. This means that special investigations – some of which are vitally important in identifying and treating certain cancers – cannot be done;
  • The hospital’s CT scanner is now only being used for emergency purposes and CT Scans are not done for staging cancers and other diagnoses due to technical problems;
  • One of the two radiology consultants resigned in December 2016 to go into private practice leaving this department severely under resourced and understaffed.

The DA’s source has also confirmed that the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) – a vital piece of x-ray equipment – has run out of storage space and older images are being deleted to make place for new ones. As a result, patient information critical for follow-up visits is being lost.

Particularly alarming is that if certain images are required in court proceedings against the department, there is a strong possibility that they will no longer be available.  This leaves the door to litigation wide open.

Add to this the fact that something as basic as air conditioning is not working in most parts of the hospital and you have an unbearable environment for staff and patients alike.

Ngwelezana was once an excellent facility.  Now it is decaying with every passing day. The horrific conditions at this hospital are an indictment against MEC Dhlomo and show clearly that he could not care less about the plight of KZN’s cancer patients.

Meanwhile, the recent resignations of a number of senior officials within KZN’s Health department – largely due to the entrenched political patronage system – means that matters are unlikely to improve anytime soon. This makes it all the more urgent that drastic action is taken.

Earlier this week the DA said ‘enough is enough”.  We called on KZN Premier Willies Mchunu to axe MEC Dhlomo.  It is examples of hospitals like this – and there are many – that must motivate him to act.

We expect the Premier to respond to our call by putting the suffering and dying in our healthcare facilities first instead of honouring his own political allegiances.

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